Cybersecurity Awareness Month (CSAM) is off to a great start here in Argentina! As a Girl Guide with the Asociación Guías Argentinas, the national Girl Guiding organization of Argentina, I am running the Surf Smart 2.0 Badge program with a group of 10- to 12-year-olds and have been amazed by the changes I have already seen in their internet behavior. Asociación Guías Argentinas is part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), the largest voluntary movement dedicated to girls and young women in the world.
WAGGGS co-created Surf Smart 2.0 with NortonLifeLock to promote Cyber Safety education across the globe. The non-formal education curriculum is designed to teach young people to connect safely and positively online, aligning perfectly with CSAM’s theme this year to be #BeCyberSmart. Surf Smart 2.0 teaches young people how to protect their personal information, stay safe, and respect other's opinions and feelings. Both CSAM and Surf Smart 2.0 focus on how it takes everyone to create a safe internet.
Since the launch of Surf Smart 2.0 in February, it has accomplished some incredible things—the program has reached almost 7,000 young people; the curriculum is now available in four languages; and the audiobook version has had almost 600 downloads since August! Twelve different WAGGGS Member Organizations have also received grants to implement the program and two trainings were held for Guide Leaders and Facilitators with almost 300 people from 30 different countries participating.
I began Guiding when I was five years old and have been a Guide ever since. In 2016, I became a Leader with the youngest age group and now I work with the oldest. I got involved with Surf Smart for the first time when I was working with 4 and 5-year-olds. At the time, the program wasn’t designed for these ages, but we adapted it for them because even kids this young needed basic online safety skills. I recently attended a training for Surf Smart 2.0 and started delivering the program to 10- to 12-year-old girls—the same girls who I did the original Surf Smart program with, when they were just 5- and 6-years-old!
The new Surf Smart program – known as Surf Smart 2.0 – is a great update to the existing program. Our girls are constantly exposed to social media, and the program takes this into account. After doing the curriculum activities with the girls, I noticed them being more careful about exchanging information with people they do not know and being choosier about who follows them online. They have been empowered to take control of their online presence. Many have chosen to make their accounts private.
Guiding is a powerful tool. It gives young people the opportunity to focus on important topics that cannot always be covered in school, and that their families may not be familiar with. They also apply the lessons they learn in Guiding programs to different areas of their lives and share them with family members and friends. It is in this way that they are true agents of change and can #BeTheChangeOnline!
To learn more, download the curriculum, audiobook, or training kit for Leaders and Facilitators, visit the WAGGGS website.
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